I'm fine, how are you?

By BY JENNIFER BOZEMAN,

I’m fine, how are you? – our standard answer when someone asks how you are. But are you?

My name is Jennifer Bozeman and I suffer from manic depression. I do. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Very few people know it because I always have a smile on my face. It’s a tough disease to live with but it’s something everyone needs to be aware of and be free to talk about. We talk about diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer and other important health matters, why not issues of the brain? It’s a part of your body and it has sicknesses as well.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month so let’s talk about it now. Depression is rampant. We are so busy in our lives, run down, run to death, go here, do this, money here, money there, lose a job, lose a spouse, housework, keeping up with the Joneses, aging parents, my child is sick, bullying, worry, politics, the state of the United States, the state of my life…it goes on and on. We live in a whirl wind of busyness that never seems to stop, never to get caught up day to day, and the hustle and bustle of life.

Depression

My depression stems from a chemical imbalance. I’ve had it since I was old enough to remember - this dark dread hanging over me. I cannot control it. I cannot tell myself to get over it. I can’t think happy thoughts and it goes away. I have to take medication for mine. It’s there, I struggle with it and I learn to deal with it as best I can. It’s not just a daily battle or weekly battle, it’s a minute to minute battle. When it hits (and it still hits while on medication) I can feel it coming on. I’m not going to get into all the horrible details here, but I will be more than glad to talk to anyone personally who has questions.

I’m good at hiding it. I don’t do it intentionally, but I don’t want to burden anyone else with my problems. We all have enough on our own plates. I just put on a smile and a “hello, I’m fine, how are you?” and keep trucking. My mother can read me like a book. When she sees my face, she knows. She knows like it’s written with a Sharpie across my forehead. She’s had to battle it with me and push me to keep on keeping on. Thank you mama.

Suicide

Depression and suicide go hand in hand. Of course, that’s not the only reason people do it or try, but it’s a big part of it. A lot of people don’t understand. I hear it all the time – it’s selfish, they were only thinking of themselves, etc. If you don’t suffer or haven’t been there, it is hard to understand and deal with it. I’ve been there. I understand. Within that split second, nothing else in the world mattered more to me than leaving this world, than stopping the pain inside, than stopping the burden I felt I was putting on others. Nothing!!! Thankfully I didn’t go through with it. The good thinking won over the evil. I got the help I needed and I moved on. I, of course, still struggle, but I will never let myself get that bad again. I have two beautiful children in my life who need me, a mother to take care of, and all my dog babies at the shelter who need a fighter. I have reasons to live. I’ve found my purposes and I will continue to the fight my battles until the war is won.

I’m telling on myself to say this to you. Do not give up. Keep fighting. Don’t stop. Get help. Don’t be ashamed. Talk to someone. Go get medicine. Do WHATEVER it takes. You are worth it. You are not a burden to people. You are not wasting space. You were put on this earth for a purpose and you should be here until God has served his purpose with you. You are only human and God loves you. We all love you!

By the way, see that photo that says “I’m fine”? Turn your paper upside down.